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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

But WHY are you doing it?

One of the most effective ways to bring joy back to work is to root yourself in why you are there. It sounds obvious but when work gets busy, the meaning behind the work itself can fade into the background. This makes total sense when we remember that our brains are constantly filtering and prioritizing information for our safety. 

If someone is not breathing, or the computers crash, or a coworker is having a meltdown, this may not be the best time to stop and think about why you went into the field of nursing in the first place, why you stay in it, and why it is an important service to the world.

You have to deal with the crisis, it’s the priority in the moment.

But taking some time to reflect can restore you from the day to day crises and can stack the odds in your favor for the next time those things occur, which of course they will. 

It doesn’t have to take long, literally a minute or two at most (although if you are new to thinking about things like this, I would recommend opening the notes in your phone and write 3 sentences as to why you chose this work.)

I am a nurse practitioner to help people, to decrease suffering in the world. I think the work is important even when it involves explaining things for the 100th time or doing a peer to peer for a medication prior auth. The end result is that people are helped and that gives me satisfaction and comfort.

And I’m not the only one, there are whole books dedicated just to this: Find your Why by Simon Sinek, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

But here’s the magic for today. 

For many of us, this is a very busy time with the holidays around the corner. Even for those who don’t celebrate holidays at this time of year, you can’t help but be exposed to all the people who are amped up on caffeine and adrenaline. It is a time of multiple family gatherings, gift giving, school performances and company celebrations. 

What if we could apply this same strategy of anchoring into your why to make decisions and… BE HAPPY WITH THEM during this potentially stressful time?

It’s as easy as asking yourself 3 questions as you navigate through this time.

  1. Why am I doing this? (“This” could be anything: going shopping, attending a social event, staying up late.)

  2. Do I like that reason?

  3. If yes, can I stop entertaining the mental drama of all the other possible options and focus on that reason? 

If no, what reason WOULD I like, or do I want to change what I am doing?

Let me give you an example.

You are invited to a party. Your initial feeling is that you don’t want to go. You are tired and don’t feel like talking to people you don’t know (and of course you have to find something to wear.) But, there are other people who will be there that you do want to see, people that you may not see for another year. 

There is not a right or wrong decision here, just FYI.

Let’s run the options through the questions so you can see how this can work. It’s hard to anchor into your why if you don’t have some clarity as to what that why is.

Decision1: Don’t go

Option 1:

Why am I doing this? I am tired and I don’t want to talk to people. It seems annoying and if I did go I would be going out of obligation.

Do I like that reason? Not really. It feels negative and heavy in my body. (this is how it feels to me, you may be different)

Why summary: I just feel negatively about it. (This isn’t super motivating.)  Go back and choose a different action ie: going, or a different reason not to.

Option 2: 

Why am I doing this? I have a lot of obligations at this time of year and I feel that I legitimately need some rest. My mental health is an excellent reason to not go

Do I like that reason? Yes. It makes me feel more empowered and like I am taking care of myself.

Why summary: I love myself enough to not go

Decision2: Go to the party

Option 1: 

Why am I doing this? I feel like I have to. The hostess will feel bad if I don’t. 

Do I like this reason? Nope. People pleasing always leads to resentment.

Why summary: I don’t have a choice. UGH. Go back and choose a different action or a different reason.

Option 2:

Why am I doing this? I know some parts will be uncomfortable but I want to be the person who makes an effort to see my friends. 

Do I like this reason? Yes. 

Why summary: Relationships matter and I want to prioritize them.

Do you see how this can work? Going to a party with the mindset that relationships matter and that I can handle a little discomfort to be the person who prioritizes them feels very different than going out of obligation.

Staying home from the party because you are taking care of yourself feels very different than avoiding people and being grumpy.

Yes, it’s mindset training in disguise. Yes, all of the options above can be concurrently true. 

You get to pick BUT you have to take the time to decide on your why if you want to feel peaceful.

If it can work at work, it can work for the holidays.

I hope this helps. Supporting you during this potentially stressful time is my WHY. Decreasing the suffering of nurses is a win for the world.

Have a beautiful December. 


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